Lance Werner, Executive Director of Kent District Library (KDL), has been named the 2023 winner of ALA’s Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession. The award, supported by the DiMattia Family, recognizes a librarian who demonstrates leadership in anticipating emerging trends in services, products and technologies that will enhance the library’s position in its community. The winner also participates in the life of the community using membership in and volunteer service through a broad range of community organizations and projects.
Werner is being honored in part for his leadership in developing a new service model for KDL employees emphasizing kindness and innovation called “The KDL Way.” Deborah Mikula, Executive Director of the Michigan Library Association who nominated Werner, remarked that his advocacy with local and state lawmakers has not only benefited KDL, but the whole state of Michigan through the passage of the 2017 Tax Capture Relief Bill that put upwards of 10 million dollars back into library budgets across the state.
Werner is a leader in safeguarding intellectual freedom, resisting efforts to censor library collections, and is helping librarians across the state organize grassroots advocacy work and learn relationship-building skills to protect library funding and build community.
For the second year in a row, Werner has been named on the Grand Rapids 200 list of the 200 most powerful and influential people in West Michigan. He uses his leadership to serve all residents and transform libraries into community hubs.
“Furthering all people and protecting intellectual freedom cannot be done by anyone or any library alone,” said Werner. “Only by identifying common threads and building advocacy from all perspectives will we accomplish our mission. This is the core of this award and I’m honored and to be recognized.”
Ernest A. DiMattia, Jr. was a longtime ALA member who lost his battle with cancer in June 2014. DiMattia was president of ALA’s Library Leadership and Management Association, a director of the Public Library Association, chair and member of several ALA working committees and member of the executive committee of the Exhibits Round Table for a dozen years. DiMattia was an ALA-appointed member of several IFLA standing committees and chaired many ALA award committees.